Igniting Leadership Program - Day One

17 October 2016 By Deborah Riley, Melbourne Water

It’s Thursday morning, and I am walking up an imposing corridor in the Old Treasury Building towards a large room. The walls are line with historical oil paintings and grand doors opening onto grand offices. The scene is set for a serious day of high-brow thinking.  Laughter erupts from my destination down the end of the hall and I‘m a bit relieved – the people I’m about to join sound friendly.

I’m in this program because leadership skills are on my workplace development plan. A decree has been sent down from above that I shall attend something called the ‘Igniting Leadership Program’. Before today I didn’t know much about the program or have any particular expectations, but being sent turns out to have been a lucky break.

The readings and the speakers for the first day cover material that would probably be useful for anyone trying to get anything done in our changeable, complicated world. For me it’s particularly timely. Just now I’m struggling with old and new workplace problems that seem to grow a new tentacle every time I get one bit sorted out. 

During day one we’re introduced to the concept of adaptive challenges, have an opportunity to think deeply about leadership, and try to get beyond the nitty gritty of our personal challenges to a real sense of purpose (sounds easy, surprisingly hard).

I find myself taking notes that I think I’ll actually want to come back and read. Flashes of insight that might help me untie some workplace knots, or make me see my tasks in a very different light. 

I’m tempted to share some of the gems of the day, but conscious they can lose their power without context and conversations. So instead I’ll leave you with something to ponder. If you’re facing problems that just don’t seem resolvable, or facing changes that take you into unfamiliar waters, you too might find it useful look into the concept of adaptive problems, and to work at expanding your ideas of leadership.

Deborah Riley, Principal - Resilience, Melbourne Water